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SLOW LIFE IN SONGKHLA

We started our trip with a visit to Wat Hat Yai Nai temple and paid respect to the world’s 3rd largest reclining Buddha. Next, we visited the city’s famous croissant shop, Dust N’ Dough, which offers a wide variety of freshly-baked croissants, including ones made from classic recipes, with macadamia, orange jam, and almond toppings.

Next, we headed to Nipatuthit 1 Road and relaxed at Lorem Ipsum gallery café. The name is enough to make art lovers scream with delight. The café’s space is designed to serve as an art gallery, which displays works of art from local artists, a small theater playing independent films, a coffee shop, and a music corner.

We ended the day at the food court in a new market where several delicious street foods are available.

We began our day sightseeing at Songkhla’s old quarter, enjoying the Sino-Portuguese architecture along the way. There are several photogenic street artworks depicting the local way of life, hidden inside the alleys or between tiny streets, but not difficult to spot for their bold, bright colors.

We tasted local foods that cannot be found elsewhere and visited a 300-year-old house widely known as Nakhon Nai Museum, which houses a collection of traditional Chinese-style furniture and chinaware. Another spot worth visiting is Hub Ho Hin, an old rice mill painted in red. The name means ‘unity, harmony, and prosperity’ in Hokkien Chinese language. The once-largest-mill has been transformed and functions now as the Songkhla’s History Museum.

In the afternoon, we went to Koh Yo (Yo Island). Before arriving, we paused at Samila Beach to take pictures of the famous mermaid sculpture. Once on the island, there are many activities to enjoy and places to visit, but one very interesting place is the Folklore Museum, the Institute for Southern Thai Studies. Here, we learned about the development of culture and art in southern Thailand from an exhibition of over 50,000 antique pieces. Each zone tells stories from the past, forming a complete jigsaw puzzle that reveals the South as it is today.

Before we left the island, we had dinner at Good Mountain Café where we enjoyed panoramic views and freshly cooked dishes.

One of the must-go landmarks for every Songkhla visitor is the Kim Yong Market, an area lined with stalls and shops, offering souvenirs, and imported goods from Malaysia at much lower prices than Bangkok. Shopping here has never been easier now that they have packing services, to the airport or your home.

Next to the market is Wat Chue Chang Chinese Temple and Thaworn Wararam Temple. These two temples have been popular among ethnic Thai Chinese for several decades and are distinctly decorated in Thai, Chinese, and Tibetan art in a very rich and unique style.

Despite our short stay, our body was really refreshed and our stomach filled. Hat Yai may not have the magical charm of ancient times, like northern Thailand, but its bustling atmosphere with a fast, modern lifestyle somehow merges perfectly with that of yesteryear.